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PTSD, Survivor’s Guilt Common Among Patients Who Have Recovered From COVID

Dr Gries AdventHealth
AdventHealth
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Dr. Cynthia Gries says that’s not surprising as many of these patients have experienced trauma during diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Cynthia Gries, the hospital system’s lung transplant director, has treated COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic, says it’s common for her to see symptoms of PTSD in patients after they recover.

COVID-19 survivors might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health concerns after recovery, according to AdventHealth physicians.

Dr. Cynthia Gries, the hospital system’s lung transplant director, has treated COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic, says it’s common for her to see symptoms of PTSD in patients after they recover.

She says one man, who was on a ventilator and partially paralyzed for weeks as a result, even expressed feelings of survivor’s guilt.

“But the thing that really struck me when we were in the office together was his feeling of survivor guilt, that why was he that lucky to survive where other people haven’t,” Gries says.

Gries says that’s not surprising as many of these patients have experienced trauma during diagnosis and treatment.

“The general population knows that, ‘oh, my goodness’ you get COVID, there’s a good chance you might die from it,” Gries says. “So once someone gets it, that initial fear is going to be there. I think also when they get hospitalized, if they were to get hospitalized they’re not allowed to see their loved ones.”

She says anyone experiencing symptoms like a change in sleeping or eating patterns, feelings of helplessness or general apathy to favorite hobbies or activities should talk to their doctor.

“The thing that I’d always tell my patients after they explain that these were the symptoms they’re feeling, is just let them know this is normal,” she says. “Like if you weren’t experiencing these things there’d be something wrong with you because what you’ve gone through is very traumatic.”

A study in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal found 1 in 3 COVID-19 survivors will deal with mental health issues within six months of initial diagnosis.